SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT is a story full of cheating Southern men, and
their sad, angry, but ultimately loyal Southern women. As a Southerner, I
had trouble identifying with the reality of the story, but the stereotypes
were as familiar as the latest television soap opera.
In SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT, Grace Bichon (Julia Roberts) was going to
be a vet, but got pregnant and married Eddie Bichon (Dennis Quaid) instead.
They had a lovely daughter, Caroline Bichon (Haley Aull) who appears to be
about 10 as the story opens. Grace is part of the old money South. Her
father, Wyly King (Robert Duvall), and mother, Georgia King (Gena Rowlands),
live in a mansion and raise jumping horses. Wyly has just spent $150,000 on
a horse, and Grace is angry at his wasting money since he already has a
champion caliber horse. Caroline is angry because she wants to ride a real
horse rather than just a pony in the big race. Eddie's family is also
loaded and is in a lucrative real estate deal with Wyly. Gosh, sounds just
like back home - all Southerners live like that as everyone who owns a TV
Into this tableaux, tragedy strikes immediately. Grace sees Eddie
kissing another woman and soon after that she finds that he has been
sleeping around like all of the other men in town. She leaves him to live
with her parents who lecture her constantly on keeping her troubles to
herself and how she should forgive and forget. Her sister, Emma Rae King
(Kyra Sedgwick), wants her to leave Eddie and Emma Rae kicks him in the
groin for good measure.
The script by Callie Khouri is full of incredulity's. How many grown
daughters would use the F word while talking to their fathers? Do we really
believe that Grace would stand up at a meeting with all of the local society
women and announce everyone whom she thinks is sleeping with someone else?
After Grace leaves Eddie, Khouri has Eddie for the most of the rest of the
movie spending only brief seconds with his daughter, whom he calls his
doodlebug and whom he loves so much. He just accepts that Grace can take
his doodlebug away forever, and he has no rights. I don't buy him being
Khouri does come up with a few good one liners. The best one that is
printable is Wyly's when he says, "I may have fooled around a little bit,
but I have never cheated." The biggest problem with the script is that we
get images and cliches, but no real story that engages the viewer, makes any
of the characters more than stick figures, or makes you care about any of
Director Lasse Hallstroem who did the wonderful MY LIFE AS A DOG and
the terrible WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE encourages all of his cast to
overact. The worst is Gena Rowlands. Her performance was totally
unbelievable and off the wall. Dennis Quaid who has done a few good movies
like D.O.A. and GREAT BALLS OF FIRE!, but many more stinkers like UNDERCOVER
BLUES (the bottom on my list in 1993), comes through with another
embarrassing performance. Imagine a hurt puppy. Now cast the puppy as
Eddie and give him a million dollars for acting. You get the idea. Duvall,
who is usually good, was given a poorly written part and did nothing
interesting with it.
The only acceptable acting was by Roberts who did a passable job as a
sad woman who says she views herself as a failure. Sedgwick looked like her
sister, but other than similar looks I found her performance of no value.
The girl, Haley Aull, showed a lot of promise. Her acting would have been
easier to listen to if they had not decided that she was going to have some
missing teeth in the back of her mouth that gave her a strong lisp. Too
cutesy for my taste.
There was a single good scene in the show - the dance scene between
Eddie and Grace. Granted than given the characters, the scene at that point
in the picture was not believable; nevertheless, it was a small delight in
an otherwise dismal movie. They should have made a different movie and used
that scene in it.
The movie was filmed on location in the horse country of Georgia and
South Carolina. Nevertheless, the cinematography (Sven Nykvist) and the
sets (Mel Bourne) were pretty blah. Only the close up scenes before the
race had any imagination. The sound had major problems in the mixing and
reminded me of some of the rough cuts you hear at a preview.
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT meanders along at 1:45 because of loose editing
by Mia Goldman. It is rated R solely for bad language. There is no sex,
nudity, violence, or drugs. I do not even remember any smoking. Like all
good Southern cliches, however, the characters all drank enough to have
cirrhosis of the liver. Teenagers used to bad language would be not be
harmed by seeing the show. On the other hand, I recommend everyone pass on
this turkey and see any other movie instead. I award it a half star since
it was not totally unbearable.
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes